Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Columnist Elizabeth Foyt: Alzheimer’s benefit an exquisite event

GATHERING about them the vast resources at their command for the recent Alzheimer's Benefit, the planners created a truly successful, most enjoyable evening. Invitations challenged guests to join in, take part and help in the race to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Each guest, by paying the $750 price, would be part of a significant effort to benefit the M. Marian Miller Alzheimer's Center, which is led by Dr. Leon Thal, professor and chairman, Department of Neurosciences, University of California-San Diego School of Medicine and Alzheimer's Research. Larry Ruvo, Maddy Graves, Bobby Baldwin and Kenny Epstein comprised the dinner committee, providing by their efforts a real tribute to their own family members stricken by the disease.

Held at Spago at the Forum, the four-course meal with all its many embellishments was personally prepared by West Coast star chef-restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and East Coast star chef Daniel Boulud. Their collaboration set the mood for expansive goodwill with their dinner and the accompanying wines, provided by Southern Wine and Spirits and described course-by-course by master sommelier Steve Geddes.

Sold out weeks in advance, the coveted spots on this guest list reflected many circles of influence with John Paul DeJoria, Judge Jeffrey and Susan Sobel, Vera and Clyde Turner, Jim DeBerry, Bill and Linda Richardson, Charlette and Elliot Krane, Jackie Gaughan, Sandy and Roger Peltyn, JoEllen and George Swarts, Carol and Peter Boynton and Gary and Carol Primm just a few of our "movers and shakers" attending.

The silent auction, which can only be described as "far, far beyond the norm," found purchasers Phyllis McGuire (golf lessons with pro Butch Harmon at Rio Secco Golf Club), Pat and Evelyn Morita (Harley-Davidson leather jackets), Joe Ungori (Vineyard Humidor), Margo and Sig Rogich (classic California wines collection), Donna Baldwin (Agassi memorabilia), Irene and Duncan Lee (Primadonna Golf and Resort vacation), Kenny and Diane Epstein (Bulgari earrings), Dr. Tony and Renee Marion (Caviarteria party for 12) and others delighted with their bidding choices.

Sprinkled across the restaurant were family groupings including Vicki and Frank Fertitta and their extended family, Bob Arum with Heather and Todd DuBoef, Larry and Camille Ruvo with his mom Angie and daughter Nicole, Maddy and Susan Graves with daughters Ginger and Holly, joined by Kenny and Dema Guinn and others who feel a close affinity to this critical cause.

Garnering a half-million dollars for research, the evening was filled with surprises, laughter and challenges among friends to top one another's bids. Larry Ruvo served as chief auctioneer and delightedly responded to Angie Dickinson's impromptu offer for "dinner with Angie." Further sweetened by the addition of a Mirage suite and full room service by Mark Schorr, president of Treasure Island hotel-casino, the hammer went down at $11,000, with smiles of success on the faces of Dr. Elias and Jody Ghanem.

Chuck Pappas matched the couple dollar for dollar as he acquired world champion magician Lance Burton as his guest for a private party. Dee Hubbard, thanks to a $25,000 top bid, will enjoy dinner in The Mirage's Melange, a VIP box for 15 at "Siegfried & Roy" and later a champagne cocktail reception in the entertainers' private apartment at the resort after the performance. Battista Locatelli, feeling generous as well, will spend the next year behind the wheel of a new Mercedes Benz SLK, a privilege priced on this special evening at just $30,000.

These and more carried the bidding wars on to legendary levels with Harvey Chaplin, Kenny Wynn, Janie Gale and Barry Shier just a few of those pleased to have contributed. Sharing in the evening's fine enjoyments as well were Gerald and Jeanne Novotny, Marie Claire and Rino Armeni, Austin McNamara, Annette and Harvey Whittemore and Becky and Frank Visconte, as well as Marcel Taylor, Eric Sobel, Richard Sturm and Marne and Adam Tihany.

Julio Iglesias, a renowned wine aficionado and special sponsor of this Alzheimer's benefit, stopped by late in the evening, as did George Hamilton, graciously thanking guests for attending. Departing guests were each given a bottle of Julion Iglesias Selection chardonnay, as well as Estee Lauder's Pleasures cologne and luxury hair-care products from Paul Mitchell Systems.

Wrangling a benefit

Planned as an outdoor evening, "Reading, Writing & Wranglers," a benefit for C.P. Squires Elementary, once again demonstrated Texas Station hotel-casino's determination to assist this at-risk school. When unexpected storms overtook Texas' outdoor venue, they prevailed upon their sister property Palace Station to co-host the fund-raiser and moved the party over there.

With Texas Station's general manager Kevin Kelley leading the charge for change (and success for these young children), plans quickly fell into place for this event. Committee members included Scott Andrus, Staci Columbo, Andrea Roqueni, LeeAnna Sidhu, Julie Samuelson and Robert Frey, as well as Shirley Paessler, Karla Anderson, Lisa Mayo, Christina Wise and Besana Bogataj. Tying up the loose ends and details while helping corral the splendid silent auction treasures were Texas Station marketing execs Robyn Rohluffs, Lana Butterfield and Carla Anderson, who continue to prove this Texas-sized commitment goes deeply into the hearts of all the employees.

Guests arrived in full western gear, prepared to dance to the delightful Tony Marques and his Sweet Justice band, who play in grand Bob Wills fashion. Scattered hay bales, vintage textbooks, checkered tablecloths and branding irons set the mood, while "wranglers" (table sponsors), including Judy Robinson, Dr. Frank Roqueni, Sharon Christal, Jeannine Klein, Dean Glover and others, gathered their special friends and guests.

Judy Robinson's table, with Dee and George Mehocic, Mary Tamburro, Carolynne Grant, Jamie Brogan, Brian Presgay, Jan Murphy, Tina Chura and Laura Pruitt, later took away honors for their contributions and top-selling live auction offerings. Pruitt, owner of The Artful Potter, brought with her a ceramic boot done at her studio by noted Southwest artist Mike Miller.

Additionally, this spirited group jointly contributed to a luxury package with George and Dee Mehocic, providing the lead with a gourmet dinner and limousine. Their honored purchaser was Judy Reich, program director for KVBC Channel 3, who was then ushered to a place of honor with Judy's other guests. Also making a significant impact through their purchases were Felix Rappaport, general manager of Boulder Station; Dr. Augi and Louise Orci, former school board trustee Dr. Herman Van Betten, who attended with his wife Pat; Burt Cordero; Charles Sweeting and fiancee Christine and Rory Hascall.

Dinner, served from rustic chuckwagons, included tasty beef ribs and chicken, with all the trimmings and side dishes known to tempt cowpokes. Relaxing over their dinner with friends were Jim Hartman, Irene Cordero, Jayme Strough, Cheryl Rose and Pattty Van Dyke. During dinner, a song performance was given by children from C.P. Squires Elementary. Their introduction included heartfelt thanks from school principal Betty Roqueni, who asked the children to sing her favorite, "I Am Your Child."

Sending her best wishes from afar was Laura Herlovich of PR Plus, who helped open Texas Station and first initiated the bond between the school and the resort. While Laura provided some of the most novel silent auction items and remains a part of the project, her vacation plans were made in advance of the fund-raiser. She spent her time in New England's famous color country, enjoying the rich colors of autumn. Her trip was a duplicate of one she took several years ago, while on a promotion tour with "Wendy the Snapple Girl."

The evening's entire proceeds were directed to the school for learning materials, computers and technology support purchases. Squires is an older public school in North Las Vegas which serves predominantly low-income families.

Have a halo

Best wishes to Joe Behar of Community Drama Workshop upon his selection for the coveted Emerald Star Halo Award. This professional recognition will be granted on Dec. 5 by the Southern California Motion Picture Council Inc., a prestigious 60-year-old organization, which stands for high moral and ethical standards in motion pictures, television and performing arts. Award ceremonies will be held during their Celebrity Awards Luncheon in the Empire Room of the Sportsmen's Lounge at Coldwater Canyon in Studio City. Members attending will reflect the rich diversity of the entertainment industry and press. Handling the details for these annual ceremonies is Inge Jaklin, first vice president, who welcomes comments and telegrams at (213) 931-8110 to share with Behar at this special presentation.

A pitch for golf

Want to play a little golf? Help a great cause? And meet a slew of professional baseball players? Canyon Gate Country Club is gearing up to host the UNLV Baseball Celebrity Golf Tournament on Nov. 24. Hometown baseball heroes Matt Williams, Greg and Mike Maddux, Mel and Todd Stottlemyre and others will tee off to benefit the UNLV Hustlin' Rebels baseball program.

The public is invited to play in this benefit tournament for a $350 entry fee that includes 18 holes of golf with a major-leaguer, dinner and an awards presentation and free time to mingle with the pros. Greens fees, cart fees, practice balls, autographs, golf shirts and/or tickets to any UNLV baseball game are also included in this entry fee.

At present, the stars scheduled to play include Greg Maddux, ace pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, and Mike Maddux, San Diego Padres pitcher, as well as former UNLV stars Matt Williams, who played in this year's World Series for the Cleveland Indians, and coach Mel and pitcher Todd Stottlemyre of the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively. Contact UNLV's Sports and Baseball Office, 895-1277, to register for your place in this charity tournament.

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